UNICEF praises Saudi Arabias humanitarian efforts

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has praised Saudi Arabia for the humanitarian assistance it has given to both global and regional emergency and relief operations, including almost $4 million for health and education projects for Palestinians and $2 million in reconstruction aid after last year’s devastating earthquake in Pakistan. Speaking at the launch of UNICEF’s Arabic Humanitarian Action Report 2006 in Riyadh on Tuesday, the agency’s Deputy Executive Director, Rima Salah, shared details of the annual funding appeal totalling over $805 million for crisis countries, and also paid tribute to the Saudi Arabian vision of cooperation in the field of disaster management and technical assistance.Highlighting one such area of cooperation, Ms. Salah thanked Saudi officials for an agreement signed in 2005 between UNICEF and the Saudi Committee for the Relief of Palestinian People that committed $3.6 million towards crucial health and quality education projects, the agency said in a news release.Since its foundation in 2000, the Committee has provided cash and in-kind assistance in addition to funding educational and medical activities and reconstruction schemes in the occupied territory. The Saudi Relief Committee, which hosted Tuesday’s launch of the report, manages and allocates funds contributed by the public towards humanitarian activities and emergency responses throughout the world, and also committed $2 million this year towards UNICEF-supported reconstruction efforts after October’s deadly earthquake in Pakistan.Saudi funding has also helped alleviate the plight of children in tsunami-ravaged countries in Southeast Asia, and played a part in the recent achievements towards polio eradication in Egypt and support to the humanitarian situation in Sudan, the agency said, while pointing out that more funding is still needed in countries facing difficulties.“Underfunding in crisis countries means that key projects and activities have long remained unimplemented, with the dramatic consequences of children not being vaccinated, not having access to potable water, no schools, access to health posts or feeding centres,” Ms. Salah told the senior government and other officials gathered for the launch.

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